US state's centennial excavators find water in time capsule holding '57 Plymouth

A car that was put in a crypt beneath the courthouse lawn in 1957 to celebrate Oklahoma's 50 years of statehood is set to see the light of day, in time for the centennial. But it might be a little rusty.

Workers unearthing the now-classic Plymouth Belvedere, a two-door hardtop, found the car sitting in water in a concrete vault that had been touted as strong enough to withstand a nuclear attack.

Still, an organizer was optimistic that the car might be "90 percent solid" because it had been wrapped in a rust inhibitor, a special coating and a huge plastic bag.

"There will be some rust here and there," said Art Couch, who is leading the unearthing project. "Maybe it's not as bad as we think."

The time capsule was briefly opened Wednesday so hazardous materials crews could inspect the contents, which also included 10 gallons (38 liters) of gasoline and 5 quarts of motor oil that had been placed inside in case internal combustion engines became obsolete by 2007.

Excavators found water halfway up on the car's fenders and evidence that water could have been to the top of the vault at one point, said Art Couch, who is heading up the unearthing project.

The first news of the water crushed event organizers, with some wiping away tears as heavy rain fell.

"It was very disappointing," said event producer Kelly McElroy. "I think we probably anticipated there would be some water; after 50 years you don't know what you're going to get."